Chaos still reigned in much of the storm-tossed Caribbean on Monday, as food and water shortages, power outages and rampant looting across several islands sparked angry criticism from residents who demanded more government help.
With a lack of basic services straining the bonds of law and order, France, Britain and the Netherlands were castigated for slow responses — despite sending some troops and promising financial aid packages.
At least 36 people were killed in the Caribbean when Irma — towering at its full Category 5 force — tore through Barbuda, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Martin and St. Barts, the Bahamas, Cuba and other islands.
Thousands were left without power from the massive storm surges and 185 mph winds on their way to wreak havoc in Key West and South Florida.
The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to assist in search-and-rescue operations in the Keys, where Irma touched down Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane.
Naval vessels with hundreds of Marines and aid packages also deployed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
But across many Caribbean islands, coordination of emergency responses remained spotty — hampered in many places by a lack of power — which opened the door for looting as supplies grew short.
Jenn Manes, who lives on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, detailed a list of robberies and break-ins after Irma.
“This is not St. John anymore. I’m not sure what it is. What I do know is that I am scared. My friends are scared. And we don’t know what to do,” she wrote on a blog she maintains about island life.
Billionaire Richard Branson, who rode out Irma inside the wine cellar of his mansion in the British Virgin Islands, called for a “Marshall Plan” to help rebuild the region.
“We must get more help to the islands to rebuild homes and infrastructure and restore power, clean water and food supplies,” Branson, head of the Virgin Group conglomerate, wrote on his website from Puerto Rico, where he was mobilizing aid efforts.
An elderly woman from Saint Martin rests in a shelter after being evacuated to Guadeloupe, the French Caribbean island, in Pointe-a-Pitre on Sept. 10, 2017, after Hurricane Irma passed.
(HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)
The British government had a “massive role to play” in rebuilding its territories, Branson wrote.
Orlando Smith, premier of the British Virgin Islands, said the situation was “critical” as he asked for immediate aid from the British government.
Britain sent 500 British troops and set aside $ 42 million in aid to its territories.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday defended Britain’s response to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” The government will soon add to its initial $ 42 million earmark, he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit the upended French island of St Martin on Tuesday. France sent almost 1,000 medical, military and police personnel to the region, which includes the ritzy vacation island of St. Barts.
View of damages in Havana’s Cojimar neighborhood on Sept. 10, 2017, after the passage of Hurricane Irma.
(YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
St. Martin, which is half Dutch, got extra troops to maintain order after looters broke into stores and targeted hotels.
Some 40,000 people live in the Dutch territory, where 70% of homes suffered extensive damage.
Alex Martinez, a 31-year-old American trapped on the Dutch part of St. Martin, had to fight off a group of looters with some other tourists when the robbers tried to break into their hotel.
“We had to fend for ourselves,” he told Reuters.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander flew to St. Martin on Monday to witness the flattened structures firsthand.
A Cuban girl wades through a flooded street in Havana on September 10, 2017.
(YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
The king took in the damage at Princess Juliana International Airport, named for his grandmother. It’s now the gathering spot for locals and visitors desperate to find a way off the island.
Willem-Alexander also met with police and troops to talk about looting.
He said the number of extra troops will rise to 550 in the next two days.
The European Union’s humanitarian aid commissioner released $ 24 million to help Caribbean islands improve overall health conditions as well as focus on the key sectors of water, sanitation and waste management in the wake of Irma.
Commissioner Christos Stylianides, calling it a “moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened,” said the EU would dig into its pockets again if needed.
In Cuba, where Irma claimed 10 lives, uprooted trees and ripped apart aging buildings, a steady rain fell onto still-flooded streets — courtesy of Hurricane Jose, still swirling in the Atlantic.
Irma also claimed a victim in Haiti, officials said. A man identified as Manesse Andreval died in Mirebalais, a town in the island’s central plateau, while attempting to cross a rain-swollen river.
With News Wire Services